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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Dana Gas shares soar on its first cash dividend proposal

Board is recommending distribution of 5% of company's capital as dividend for 2017

A Pearl Petroleum facility in Iraqi Kurdistan. The consortium largely produces fuel to feed into the domestic Kurdish power grid. WAM
A Pearl Petroleum facility in Iraqi Kurdistan. The consortium largely produces fuel to feed into the domestic Kurdish power grid. WAM

Shares of Dana Gas, the Sharjah company in midst of legal battles over the legality of its $700 million sukuk, soared 8.3 per cent on Sunday on a proposed cash dividend for the first time in the company’s trading history.

The board has recommended distributing 5 per cent of the capital of the company as cash dividend for financial year 2017, the company said in a statement to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange where its shares are traded. The proposal is subject to approval from shareholders during a general assembly to be held on April 11.

Last year, Dana Gas declared its Islamic bonds that were due in October illegal under current Sharia rules, angering bondholders, which include BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager. In May, the company said it planned to restructure its debt, the second time it has done so.

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“One reason it [shares of Dana Gas] moved up today because it is going to pay cash dividend,” said Sanyalak Manibhandu, head of research at FAB Securities. “Many investors are linking the payment of a dividend to perhaps some sort of solution in terms of the sukuk.”

The company’s shares climbed 12 per cent on Thursday as investors await the outcome of the legal case in Sharjah. The company has suffered setbacks in rulings in the UK courts.

Dana Gas is negotiating with the bondholders individually and has told them they face delays and losses if the proposed debt plan is resolved by a court in Sharjah, Bloomberg quoted people familiar with the matter as saying last week.

Dana Gas swung to a net profit of $83m in 2017 compared with a loss of $88m a year earlier, helped by a $1 billion payment from the KRG, as part of the settlement of a long-running dispute over dues.

Under the terms of the settlement, the KRG agreed to pay the Pearl Consortium - consisting of Dana Gas, its parent Crescent Petroleum, OMV of Austria, Germany’s RWE and Hungary’s MOL - a sum of $600 million, along with a $400m payment to be allocated towards the consortium’s further investment in the region’s gasfields.